Castle of Dreams – Week Two

Hello again.

This week we have a post from my friend and fellow author, the wonderful Katrina Anne Jack.  Kate is a founder member of the Alliance of Worldbuilders, and has been a great help to me personally in my writing.  I am honoured to have her as a guest post on this blog. This is how Kate describes hereself:

“My name is Katrina Anne Jack, but I’m known to all and sundry as Kate. I’ve been writing since I was about fourteen and have finally found my writing niche in urban fantasy fiction.”

Kate’s novel “The Silver Flute Trilogy – Land of Midnight Days” was published by Ecanus Publishing, and will also be released in hardback soon.  Find out more here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=land+of+midnight+da

Enough of the factual, let’s read Kate’s post – I know I’m looking forward to it!

From Castle to Town Hall.

I was born, and still live, in the city of Liverpool. Already a city of dreams, the metropolis is rife with musicians, artists and writers. I belong to the latter group and have sought and found constant inspiration from my native city.

 One of the best places for this is where, once upon a time, a castle stood, replaced by the magnificent town hall that now stands at the junction of Castle Street and Dale Street, its dome crowned by the beautiful statue of Britannia.

liverpool town hall

It isn’t hard to imagine what the castle itself might once have looked like, or to visualize its occupants. Originally constructed to protect King John’s new port of Liverpool, the castle stood on a plateau at the highest point in the city, guardian of all it surveyed. Somehow, when one stands and gazes up at the current building, a feeling arises that the shade of the castle still maintains its guardianship over the city.

liverpool castle

Although it no longer exists, the castle still gives me food for thought and a new insight into the place of my birth. So much has changed over the centuries, from medieval splendor to metropolitan grandeur. The thread that binds both eras together is, for me, the motivation to write, to provide fuel for my imagination and the ultimate gift of creation in its entire splendor.

220px-CastlePlan

Thank You Kate!

To find out more about her work, and Kate herself, follow her blog here:kateannejack.wordpress.com

Next week we will be joined by the spymaster herself, the lovely AFE Smith.

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Castle of Dreams – Week One

Welcome to week one of my Castle of Dreams series, my first guest is Paul Freeman, this is how he describes himself:-

“Paul Freeman is a warrior, adventurer, and zombie hunter. He is from Dublin, Ireland, where he now works, plays and writes. In the past he has lived in Germany and America but is now content to keep his roaming to the worlds he creates and writes about.”

Tribesman is his first published novel, and having read it myself, I can say it is well worth looking at.   He has also published a short story in the steampunk anthology, Strange Tales From the Scriptorium Vaults. A horror book, Season of the Dead, written with three other writers will be published by Spore Press in spring 2013.  He is currently working on book 2 in the Tribesman series.

Enough of the factual, let’s go straight to his post:

 

When Andrea offered the opportunity to guest on her blog and talk about castles, I thought, yes, I’m the man for this. I love castles, I have done since a very young age. I grew up on old swash-bucklers, Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, Knights, King Arthur, Crusaders, you get the idea. There was always a castle siege, a huge battle with enormous amounts of extras, no computer graphics back then. Then a fight scene at the end, inside the castle. They’d vault the throne, swing from the tapestries, fight backwards up the steps. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Now I write fantasy books, epic adventures, battles and larger than life heroes.

But I’ve always loved real castles too. I spent hours, as a boy, exploring old ruins imagining what it would be like to be a knight manning the battlements, hero and conqueror all in one. I also grew up beside one of the best preserved castles in the country. Malahide Castle attracts thousands of tourists every year, indeed I spent a large portion of my youth in the grounds of Malahide Castle, getting up to things perhaps not envisaged by the park wardens. But enough of that.

You see, it’s not Malahide Castle, or one of the many other ancient ruins, that sprang to mind. Nor is it a huge Norman castle from one of my childhood favourite movies. It is a much smaller, much less grand castle that I immediately thought of. A two storey (once three storey) tower castle, on the coast road between Malahide and Portmarnock in North County Dublin. In fact these days it’s someone’s house. Robswall Castle.

There’s a story to it, well a made-up story, made-up by me. You see one winter’s night two boys were walking past RobswallCastle… okay it was me and my mate. Me and my friend Stevo were walking along the coast road one night, it was raining, cold sleety rain, and a wind was howling in from the Irish Sea. I pointed to the big bay window hanging over the road and said to Stevo, ‘imagine an old woman sitting on a rocking-chair, endlessly knitting, just sitting there staring out at everybody who walked past, the only sound the clicking of her knitting needles. Well this one throw-away remarked freaked both of us out so much we legged it all the way home, giggling like schoolgirls. We still laugh about it today.

Anyway the image stuck with me, and I decided to write a book about it… at least I started a book about it, it’s not finished yet. Below is an extract, in fact it’s the opening of the book.

 

 

WHERE EVIL LURKS

 

I have this recurring dream, I’m twelve years old and walking the Coast Road between Malahide and Portmarnock in north County Dublin. It’s late, over head is a clear, dark sky, pin-pricked by countless shining stars. A round yellow moon hangs low in the inky blackness illuminating the sea. I can hear the waves lap at the rocks below the seawall. It is winter, I can taste frost on my tongue, feel the chill in the air stinging my nose and ears.

I’m frightened, I don’t like the dark. I don’t like being out at night when there is nobody else around. I don’t like the feeling of being watched from the darkness. My heart beats faster, I can feel myself close to tears as I quicken the pace, constantly looking over my shoulder. I imagine being pursued by wild, rabid dogs, a pack working in unison, stalking me. A crisp packet is blown along the footpath by the breeze, making me look sharply in that direction. I jump at every sound.

I can see Robswall Castle now, its great bay-window hanging over the road. More of a tower than a castle, converted into somebody’s house, it sits on a bend on the road, overlooking the Irish Sea. That’s when I hear the clicking sound. Click- click, click-click. It sounds familiar but I can never place it straight away. I’m running by the time I reach the castle, the cold winter air freezing in my throat as I gulp down as much oxygen as a terrified, twelve-year-old boy can.  I sense, more than see the curtains move. Then another sound joins the clicking, creak – creak. This freaks me out more than the thought of the feral dogs chasing me, or of any other terror my young mind can conjure from often heard tales. Banshees, ghouls and vampires. Stories to feed the imagination and night terrors of a young boy.

I can see clearly now, how I don’t know. I’m still outside on the road, but I can see beyond the huge window, right into the room. I see an old woman, rocking back and forth in a rocking chair.

Creak – creak.

In her lap is a ball of wool, her hands work furiously with a pair of knitting needles.

Click – click.

This is no kindly grandmother knitting a pair of socks for a baby grandchild. One look from her and I know my blood will freeze, one glance from the black eyes in her head and I will lose my soul forever.

On and on the needles click, as she rocks back and forth. Forever in that bay window, waiting for unsuspecting travellers to wander by, on dark cold nights.

“Is this why you killed those women?” The shrink’s monotone voice interrupts my retelling of the dream, breaking my concentration.

“No, the Devil made me do that,” I answer, keeping a straight face as he scratches into his clipboard with a plastic biro.

The Devil never made me do anything in my life, at least I don’t think he did, but it amuses me to give these morons what they want.

© Paul Freeman 2012

 

So that’s it. Thanks Andrea.

 

Thanks Paul!

To find out more about Paul, and his writing, visit his blog here :

 
Next week we have a post by the equally fabulous Katrina Jack, see you then

Christmas is a magical time…

Don’t you think?

It’s always been a favourite time of mine, I love the smiles, excited children, decorations, and general feeling of happiness that it seems to bring.  Since my daughter was born, it has become even more special.

I could do without the panic that always sets in about now though.  No matter how organised, or how much time I’ve had to prepare, I always seem to be plagued with the feeling of having forgotten something.

Regular visitor to my website will notice a few changes.  As part of the marketing for Book One (“Leah”), I had the pleasure of being photographed on location at Kenilworth Castle.  Those of you that know me personally will know how much I hate having my photograph taken, so the fact that I enjoyed it, and am prepared to share the pictures, is a huge credit to Catherine.  I would recommend her to anyone that needs photos doing, and a link to her website can be found at www.AndreaBakerAuthor.com under links.

Over the next few weeks I am running a series of guest posts from fellow authors and friends, entitled “Castles of Dreams”.  Each guest has been asked to write a piece about what castles mean to them – some are magical, some are gothic, and some quite frightening, but castles mean many different things to us. As for mine, you can read mine in the detail of “Leah”.

The first post is the fantastic Paul Freeman – pop back on Friday 20th December to see his post!

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